Making Architecture Become: A performative approach to engaged encounters between inhabitants, architecture and technology

Cameline Bolbroe

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisPh.D. thesis


The advancement of digital technologies has led to significant changes in
architectural design since the 1960s. Not only concerning the development
of new digital design tools but also in relation to new features and
properties of the built environment. Today, the opportunity to embed
computational technologies directly into the fabric of buildings allow
the design of architecture that changes, responds and adapts to changing
patterns of inhabitation. Designing for such conditions challenges
traditional architectural design approaches and emphasise the need for an
approach, which positions the active and engaged inhabitant as central
to architectural design processes. However, the majority of projects
and research focusing on the integration of embedded computational technologies into architecture, primarily consider the human being, as an
inhabitant, based on a static architectural paradigm. This thesis, positioned
within the field of Adaptive Architecture, investigates how architectural
design processes can be informed, taking into consideration the role and
position of the inhabitant in Adaptive Architecture. To do so, the thesis
explores how performative perspectives can contribute to the development
of a methodological framework that allows the study of engaged encounters
between inhabitants, architecture and technology.
The thesis examines and discusses architectural discourse and projects
concerning Adaptive Architecture from the 1960s and onwards, as well
as recent contributions to the field. The review shows that a recurring
ambition in the field concerns potentials that are resulting from direct
mutual exchanges between the inhabitant, architecture and technology.
Still, only few contributions are based on an experimental research design
that in practice enable explorations into how the inhabitant co-constitutes
Adaptive Architecture through their activities and actions. This discrepancy
between ambition and practice, reveals a need to develop conceptualisations
of the inhabitant as an acting and engaging individual, in order to realise
adaptation to human needs, preferences and aspirations. Aiming to develop
and offer a design perspective that encompasses such concerns, this thesis
introduces an understanding of Adaptive Architecture as an architecture
in-becoming. Through this lens, architecture may be considered as ongoing
processes of action, exchange and engagement between the material,
meaning, human and non-human. Accordingly, the character of the design
process itself transitions from being compository to capacitive. In order to
support such design processes, a post-dramatic performative approach is
suggested as a means to understand and explore the particular conditions
that unfold as relationships between inhabitants and forms of architecture
with embedded computational technologies.
Organised as a research-through-design process, the exploratory study
in this thesis introduces and applies performance techniques to conduct
participant-based explorations in three experimental environments. The
results from this exploratory practice show that it is possible to unfold,
describe and nuance a rich context of relational conditions that emerge as
a result of engaged encounters between the participants and the particular
experimental architectural environments. Based on the insights from
the participant-based explorative experiments, a particular quality, the
palimpsest (becoming-with-time), and four processes (becoming-withspace)
are identified. The palimpsest denotes a particular relationship
between time and action, and the four processes denote specific mutual
exchanges between the participants and the experimental environments.
These four processes: attunement, coupling, negotiation and collaboration
are framed as capacitive processes. Based on the insights and results of
the participant-based explorative experiments, a specific methodological
framework is proposed in order to enable an opportunity to capacitate
design processes, and in which the active and engaged inhabitant is taken
into account. This methodological framework, Events as apparatuses for
capacitation, contains three elements: observational positions, modes
and structures of engagement. The application of this methodological
framework in a professional context, substantiate a performance-based
approach as a productive tool for the exploration of specific design
objectives. Insights from practice frame two contributions to architectural
design practice for capacitating informed design development of adaptive
architectural environments. First, how a performative perspective on
Adaptive Architecture can enable the exploration and information of
adaptive architectural design in consideration of the active and engaged
inhabitant. Next, how a performance-based methodology to adaptive
architectural design enables the architectural researcher and practitioner to
examine and develop processes and qualities of Adaptive Architecture.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
Number of pages197
ISBN (Print)978-87-7949-028-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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